Brooklyn Public Library is among the borough’s most democratic civic institutions, serving patrons in every neighborhood and from every walk of life. Established in 1896, BPL is the nation’s fifth largest public library system and currently has nearly 700,000 active cardholders. With a branch library within a half-mile of nearly all of Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents, BPL is a recognized leader in cultural offerings, literacy, out-of-school-time services, workforce development programs, and digital literacy. In a borough of wide economic disparity, where the costs of basic necessities often take priority over spending on cultural enrichment opportunities, BPL provides a democratic space where patrons of all economic standings can avail themselves and their children of cultural and educational programs in a broad range of disciplines. 

The American Library Association’s 2014 Public Library Data Service Statistical Report ranked BPL third in the nation among public libraries for public programs offered and program attendance. In 2016, BPL was awarded an IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for museum and libraries, in large part due to the work of its Outreach Services department and its efforts to serve Brooklyn’s most vulnerable populations.

Fast Facts

  • Most of Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents live within a half-mile of a BPL branch.
  • Our collection holds more than 4 million physical items and 700,000 digital materials.

Last year, BPL:

  • Offered over 64,000 free programs, with nearly 1 million attendees.
  • Circulated more than 14.9 million materials, including books and electronic media.
  • Provided 2.2 million computer sessions on 1,400 devices.
  • Logged a total of 85,000 volunteer hours contributed by 2,000 volunteers
  • Welcomed 8.7 million visits to our branches